My “Greatest” Aunt Natalie was instrumental in piquing my interest in genealogy and most recently entrusted me with her work of 30+ years. When she passed, exactly a year ago today, I wrote “Rest in Peace my Greatest Aunt Natalie and thanks for the wonderful legacy….AND if you can hear me, please send a SIGN to help us FINALLY find Jennie Ferguson’s parents John and Elizabeth!!!!” (click here for post about Aunt Natalie).
This post tells what I know of Jennie Ferguson’s life (click here).
In a nutshell, Jennie might have been born in the area near Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada (according to daughter Jennie Haines Johnson’s 1919 death certificate, informant was her husband Ernest Johnson; other records specify a generic birthplace of New Brunswick) likely about 1858, records place her birth between 1856 and 1864**.
** Jennie’s birth year ?
- The Boston Globe death notice lists her as age 82 (b. abt 1856) Her death certificate puts her age at 74 (b. 1864);
- Her gravestone reads 1858-1938;
- the 1880 census puts her age at 22, b. abt 1858 (assuming it is really her and not someone of the same name – she is working as a domestic);
- She is listed as age 23 when she married in 1882 (b. abt 1859);
- the 1900 census lists a birth date of Jun 1866, age 33 and says she was married 18 years. If correct, this would put her age 15 at marriage;
- the 1910 census gives her age as 51 (b. 1859);
- 1930 census, there is a woman of the same name as an inmate at a hospital in Boston, age 73, b. 1857 – not sure if this is her as she supposedly owned and was living in a house in Billerica (no records in Billerica have been located – land deeds of Middlesex North are not online and I have not had the opportunity to visit)
- If she is really the Jane Ferguson in the 1861 Canadian census (mentioned herein), her age was 4, thus she was b. abt 1857
Jennie relocated to Boston in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s where she likely was employed as a servant. She married there on 7 March 1882. Her husband was William John “John” Haines, born 7 Mar 1856 in Richibucto, son of John Haines/Hains and Alice Edith Childs. They likely knew each other before arrival in Boston, from Richibucto, as Jennie was a best friend to John’s sister Mary Haines (according to Mary’s diary). The marriage record names Jennie’s parents as John and Elizabeth. The Rev. John Hood, who married them, is listed in Boston City Directories in that time period at United Presbyterian, corner of Berkeley and Chandler Streets (the church record of this marriage has not been located).
An entry in Mary Haines’s diary reads:
26 January 1882: “John came over from Chelsea this evening. We had a lovely time together. Jenny Ferguson my dear friend came down from Richibucto. She was here tonight. Just came on the boat today. I am so glad to see her. She is my dearest friend” [ship manifest not located].
All available birth, marriage and death records for Jennie, John and their eight children have been reviewed. She is named as Jennie or Jennie Ferguson in all except one – her daughter Margaret Elizabeth’s marriage in 1909 names her as Jennie Garfield. Garfield might be a typo or a clue….
Another “clue”might be the name Glatis/Galatis. Jennie named her first son John Glatis Haines. Glatis is not a name of the Haines family, so perhaps it is linked to the Fergusons.
Records were examined in New Brunswick and no individuals with a surname similiar to “Garfield” or “Glatis/Galatis” seemed to be associated with Fergusons. Both names were uncommon in that area.
Other children’s names may offer clues: Ella May, Margaret Elizabeth, Minnie and Jennie (Edith, Alexander, John and Joseph are Haines family names). Mary Haines’ diary mentions her closest friend besides Jennie is Minnie Gordon, was Jennie’s daughter named after this Minnie? Minnie has not been identified in records, but there was a Gordon family who resided near or next door to Elizabeth (Potts) Ferguson, Jennie’s probable grandmother, in 1861 in Weldford, Kent New Brunswick.
Jennie was Aunt Natalie’s (and my grandmother Edith’s) paternal grandmother, thus my paternal gg-grandmother.
1861 Ferguson Family
In Weldford Parish, Kent, New Brunswick, 1861 (census page 27), an Elizabeth Ferguson was enumerated with her “brother” Archibald and his two nieces, 4-year old Jane (a common nickname for Jennie) and infant Jepie (perhaps Jessie). Further research places the family in South Branch, a village about twelve miles from Richibucto. Mary Haines’ diary circa 1880-1883 mentions her visit home to Weldford.
Right next door to Archibald Ferguson is James Alexander Clare. John Hains (Jennie Ferguson’s father-in-law) married a Jane Clare in 1865; online trees name James and Jane as siblings. Thus a potential connection as neighbors, between the Ferguson and Haines families.
Two pages away, and thus likely nearby, in this same census (page 25), listed just after the family of Thomas Gordon, is Elizabeth Ferguson, of the age to be Elizabeth and Archibald’s mother, with her children Agnes, Robert, Andrew, Mary and granddaughter Mary, age 6 [this granddaughter is listed as age 21 in 1871, then is not found marrying or in later censuses – who are her parents? – could this be Jennie listed by a middle name? or her sister?]. There is also a John Graham listed as Elizabeth’s son. The census is unclear, but further analysis indicates this may be her son from a prior relationship.
The Robert Ferguson named in this census as a son of Elizabeth Ferguson, filed a delayed birth record in 1932 where he names his parents as William Ferguson and Betsy Potts, he writes that his mother had 6 children, all of whom were living. If Elizabeth had eight children, he would have been Elizabeth’s 6th child in birth order: (1) John Graham, (2) Jane, (3) Elizabeth, (4) Archibald, (5) Agnes, (6) Robert, (7) Andrew, (8) Mary. Or if his statement is accurate, it is possible two of these children were not born to Elizabeth (a land deed, discussed later in this narrative, names children 2-8 as heirs of William Ferguson).
Side note: Robert named children Jennie and Jessie (perhaps family names?)
The marriage of this couple was published:
PANB, Daniel F. Johnson. Date December 28 1830, County Northumberland, Place Chatham, Newspaper The Gleaner and Northumberland:
m. Thursday 10th, by John Jardine, William FERGUSON, Esq. / Elizabeth POTTS, Harcourt (Kent Co.)
Land deeds further connect the Ferguson, Potts and Graham families.
For example, in 1856 Archibald Ferguson, Andrew Ferguson and John Graham all of Weldford jointly buy land of John Potts of Wellington.
A cemetery transcription at GALLOWAY CEMETERY in Rexton (formerly Kingston, just south of Richibucto) reads:
FERGUSON, William died Apr 19 1844 aged 59
native of Dumfrieshire, Scotland
William Ferguson and Elizabeth Potts’s apparent last child, Mary was born in 1841. The 1851 census for Kent County did not survive. Elizabeth is widowed by 1861 and the census offers a race/where born of “Scotch Newcastle Dumfries”. Thus, this grave transcription could be her husbands (although there was a land deed filed in Weldford, 18 October 1844 where William Ferguson and his wife Betty sell land to John Graham – the deed reads that William appear on this date, if accurate he could not have passed six months prior to his appearance). Jannet (Dunn) Childs, mother to Alice Edith Childs and James Childs, grandmother to William John Hains was also said to be of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Perhaps a connection between the families.
Elizabeth is buried at St. Andrews in Rexton next to Captain Simon Graham’s second wife Mabel Plume. Was Simon related?
FERGUSON, Elizabeth died Jan 16 1872 age 72
wife of William FERGUSON
Elizabeth’s grave states that she is of New Castle on Liddesdale, Rocborough Shire [Newcastleton, is a village in the Scottish Borders and within the historic boundaries of Roxburghshire, a few miles from the border of Scotland with England. The village is in Liddesdale and is on the Liddel Water, and the site of Hermitage Castle. The planned village of Newcastleton locally titled “Copshawholm” was founded by Henry Scott the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch on the 4th March 1793 taking the place of the original village of Castleton as a centre of development for flax, wool and cotton handloom weaving].
In 1869 a deed was filed that names the heirs of William Ferguson:
Andrew Ferguson, Archibald Ferguson of Weldford….Agnes Ferguson, Elizabeth Ferguson and Mary Ferguson, all of the same place spinsters. Jane Evans, wife of John Evans of the same place, all heirs of the late William Ferguson deceased. It then goes on to name Eliza Ferguson wife of Archibald Ferguson and Robert Ferguson also heirs.
While it is possible that Elizabeth Ferguson had two children out of wedlock, she may have also have been widowed and thus Archibald’s sister-in-law. However, she is named as a heir to William Ferguson and a “spinster” indicating that perhaps she never married. Since Elizabeth Potts named a son John Graham, she likely did not name a subsequent son John Ferguson. This might indicate that although Jennie’s father may have been named John, his surname would not likely have been Ferguson.
In 1871, Elizabeth, a servant, and Jessie Ferguson were enumerated in Richibucto Parish (Jennie/Jane was not found this census year); given the age variations for Jennie in various documents, it is also possible that she was “Jessie” and her name was misinterpreted by the census enumerator:
William Fitzgerald (widower, wives were Honora Hickey/Jean Potts)- 78
Elizabeth Ferguson – 32
Jessie Ferguson – 9
John McWilliams – 4
That year’s city directory places Fitzgerald in Weldford, South Branch.
William Fitzgerald was likely related through his marriage to Jean Potts, probably a sister to Elizabeth Ferguson’s mother, thus William was probably an uncle. In 1871 there was an exchange of land between William Fitzgerald and Robert & Andrew Ferguson, his likely nephews. Fitzgerald’s will is found in December 1875 New Brunswick land deeds; assets are left to his son-in-law and daughter, Richard English and wife Mary.
No definitive connection has been found between the Fergusons and John McWilliams, but he could be a relative. There was a John Childs, age 14 enumerated with Elizabeth in 1881. This could be John McWilliams enumerated with another surname in error. He was not found under either surname after this date. In 1871 there is a McWilliams family near Elizabeth (Potts) Ferguson in Weldford: William (63, b. Scotland), Christine (58, b. Scotland), Alexander (30), David (22), Janet (24), Anne (20), Christina (18), John (18), Archibald (10).
Elizabeth Ferguson married James Childs, son of Joseph Childs and Jannet Dunn, 28 January 1875; both were of Richibucto. The marriage was solemnized by Rev. James Law (1822 – 1882) minister of St Andrews Church, Rexton for 32 years from 1845 to 1877 – the church yard where Jannet Dunn and Alice Edith Childs are buried). More of the church and it’s origins here – A-historical-account-of-St-Andrews-Church. Witnesses were Nicholas Childs (James’s sister) and William English.
Note: In the 1871 census, Elizabeth Ferguson was enumerated as family #155; James Childs’s with his father and siblings are listed on the prior census page, families #147 & 148 – this is also where Mary Haines was enumerated in 1861, she and Jennie Ferguson might have crossed paths and become friends while neighbors between 1861 and 1871.
An entry in Mary’s diary dated 1 Dec 1881 reads: Seven years ago today  dear Joseph [her brother] and I left Weldford for Nova Scotia. Confirmation that both Haines and this Ferguson family were residing in Weldford.
A witness to Elizabeth and James’ marriage, William English (son of Richard English and Nancy May Fitzgerald, daughter of the William Fitzgerald with whom Elizabeth resided in 1871), was part of family #149. There were also several land transactions recorded between William Fitzgerald and William English.
James Childs was brother to Alice Edith Childs, who was mother to Jennie Ferguson’s husband John Haines and her best friend, Mary Haines!! This seems to be another connection between the Haines and Ferguson families!!!!!! (more details on the Childs’ family here).
In 1881 and 1891, James and Elizabeth were enumerated in Weldford Parish. They had two sons, James and William Joseph (neither seemed to marry or have children).
There was a John Childs, age 14 enumerated with them in 1881 (possibly John McWilliams in 1871). It appears this John died in 1888. The newspapers reports: “John CHILDS of New Brunswick, while at work in a gravel pit on Sourdinahunk stream, Maine [Nesowadnehunk, Northern Maine near Mt Katahdin] was killed last Friday by the bank caving in on him. He lived a few hours”. He is buried at St Andrews near James’s mother Jannet and sister Edith. Death records list cause as an accident, his age as 22 but a residence of New Hampshire.
By 1901 James and Elizabeth relocated to British Columbia, where Elizabeth died 31 July 1913.
In 1915, James next married his g-grand niece, Elizabeth Mitchell, who was 20 years his junior (widow of Adam Stothart; daughter of James Walter Mitchell and Elizabeth Mary Haywood), with whom he had four children – Janet Bertha (1915-1922), William Albion (1916-1976), Sarah Jean (1919-1930) and Hattie (1922-2011) before he died in 1923. Elizabeth Mitchell mother, Elizabeth Mary Haywood was the daughter of James Childs’ sister, Jane Childs.
Jennie’s best friend, Mary Haines’s grandson Ralph Stevens, inherited a photo from Mary’s collection. Sender is unknown. The photo reads: These are Bertha and Billy Childs my half bro. + sis. Don’t you like my little Billy boy? Yes, he is a little darling + mouse.
Bertha and Billy (William?)!! Children of James Childs and Elizabeth Mitchell!!! This had to be sent/ written by either Jennie Ferguson or James Childs Jr.!! Since Mary (Haines) Stevens was Jennie’s best friend and James Jr.’s her first cousin, she may have corresponded with both. Technically Jennie is not a half sibling as they are her step-father’s children with his second wife, but she certainly may have considered them half siblings.
I do not have a handwriting sample of Jennie, but do have James’ signature; the “Childs” written on the photo differs slightly, James adds a little “tail” to the s at the end of James and Childs, the words ending in s on the photo do not have this tail, however the handwriting is not different enough to say it the note on the photo was not written by him:
James Childs Jr. was born in 1876 in New Brunswick. Mary (Haines) Stevens was born twenty years earlier and by 1880, when he was four, she was residing in Boston. Although not impossible, it is improbable that she and James had much of a relationship.
To date, I have only located Hattie Childs’s obituary and it it has no mention of Jennie. If a Stothart descendant wrote the obituary they may not have been aware of a relationship if there were one.
A map of the area and the 1865/6 Kingston (now Rexton) directory further connects families. William Ferguson is in RED. Nearby in GREEN are the following connected families:
James A. Clare – father of Jane Clare, second wife of John Hains (m. 1865) and step-mother of Jennie Ferguson’s husband John and best friend Mary Haines.
Joseph Childs – Grandfather of William John Haines, Jennie Ferguson’s husband.
Richard English – son in law of William Fitzgerald, likely his wife is 1st cousin to Elizabeth Ferguson.
Simon Graham – Elizabeth Ferguson seems to have had a child named John Graham and she is buried next to Simon’s second wife Mabel Plume. They could be related.
James Morton – father of Alexander Morton who married Mary Childs, sister to James Childs (husband of Elizabeth Ferguson) and daughter of Joseph Childs and Janet Dunn
William Fitzgerald – likely family with whom Elizabeth Ferguson was living in 1871, likely a maternal uncle.
John Potts, Jr. – likely relation to Elizabeth Potts, wife of William Ferguson.
Potential Jessie connection (likely not accurate if Elizabeth Ferguson was a biological daughter of William)
A search of the 1871 New Brunswick census reveals only one Jessie Ferguson born between 1855 and 1865 in New Brunswick (using search criteria Jes* F*s*n – where * is a wildcard). There is one other enumerated in New Brunswick as Jessie C Furgusson who was born in PEI abt 1857. Her parents seem to be John and Sharleen. The same search in the United States, in 1870 with a birth place of Canada (and Maine), yielded no matches.
A Jessie Ferguson of the correct age to be Elizabeth’s daughter, born in New Brunswick, is found in 1880 working as a servant in Portland, Maine.
On 07 Nov 1882 in Portland, Cumberland, Maine, she married George W. Johnston. The couple relocated to Wisconsin and then to Washington State. Children included Ernest, Ada, Sarah, Gordon and Bernice. Most census records list Jessie’s birthplace as Maine, only the 1880 census lists New Brunswick.
Jessie died 17 Oct 1934, Port Angeles, Clallam, Washington. Her death record names her parents:
Jennie Ferguson’s parents were also named as John and Elizabeth! Could Jessie be a sister and Elizabeth’s maiden name Wallace? Or did Jennie’s sister die young and Elizabeth Ferguson daughter of William have two children out of wedlock?
I am still searching! But this information is intriguing…Aunt Natalie, are you listening? – send me a sign!!
A few last notes: The only other Ferguson family in the area of Richibucto was that of Jacob Ferguson (first wife Elizabeth McNarin , second wife Agnes Dickie). I took a photo of his grave at Saint Andrews, Rexton cemetery when I visited in 2014. His stone states that he was a native of Wallace, N.S. (census record also list a Nova Scotia place of birth about 1824 – 6 years prior to the Ferguson/Potts marriage). Descendants of this Ferguson family appear in the Drouin Collection of Catholic Church records, Richibucto; the Ferguson family I’ve outlined and Jennie were likely Presbyterian.
Thus Jacob is probably not a member of William Ferguson’s family. Although he is buried in the same churchyard and both of his marriages were also performed by the Rev. James Law….
UPDATE October 2016 – We have a DNA match!!!!!! The tree of a 94 year old tester, J.F., states he is the grandson of Archibald Ferguson, son of William Ferguson and Elizabeth Potts!!! We mutually match four testers who have not responded to my inquiries (one with a 56 CM match and three in the 20-27 cM range), three of them have no family tree and the fourth has a sparse tree with no similar surnames or locations.
The largest shared match (56 cM) has an Acadian screen name. When I select “in common with” I get 10 pages of Ancestry matches (thus a connection to my mother and not Jennie who is on my dad’s side)! Same with one of the other smaller matches. The other two matches and I only have J.F. in common.
J.F. shares 68 cMs with me across 4 segments on Ancestry.com, thus about 1% (he is not on GEDMATCH so I have been unable to identify specific segments). A match of this size would predict us being about third cousins, so second cousins three times removed essentially falls into this range.
J.F.’s other lines were reviewed. He does have a number of French surnames, many of which are likely Acadian. We do not have any common matches back 5 generations on those lines. My mother is 50% Acadian, it is possible that we have common ancestors many generations back. Given that we only have matches in common with four other testers (and I have about 1,400 Acadian 4th cousin or closer matches on Ancestry.com), despite endogamy, it is unlikely that Acadian ancestors back more than 5 generations could contribute such a high percentage of DNA and if it did, we might expect to see a number of smaller segments vs. just matching on four.
I have hopes that the tester will eventually upload to GEDMATCH (my mother’s results are there) so that I can further prove or disprove matches to my maternal Acadian line, and perhaps increase confidence this is a true Ferguson match.
UPDATE March 2017: My paternal uncle’s results are in!! He would be a second cousin 2x removed to this tester if my theory is correct. My uncle shares 183 centimorgans across 7 DNA segments. Second cousins 2x removed on average share 81 cMs, but the range (according to Blaine Bettenger) is 0-201.
The testers grandson also tested (thus my 4th cousin 1x removed and my uncle’s 4th cousin). I do not share any DNA with the grandson, however my uncle shares 39 centimorgans across 3 DNA segments (average is typically 31 with a range of 0-90 according to Blaine’s chart).
One of Jennie’s grandchildren has also tested and results are pending.
In summary, Jennie’s grandparents were most likely William Ferguson and Elizabeth Potts and Archibald was likely her uncle. One of William and Elizabeth’s children was likely a parent to Jennie. Although not proven, information seems to suggest that her mother might have been Elizabeth.